Already afflicted with a somewhat melancholic disposition, and thus inclined to take a dim view of almost everything, I’ve recently found it more difficult than ever to get a laugh out of life. Or, for that matter, out of death.
It’s been hard to see the funny side, for example, of my beloved youngest sister’s life-and-death struggle with cancer, or my dear wife’s impending spinal surgery.
But my sister’s unquenchable sense of humour has not only helped her come smiling through two major operations, but also keep her surgeon and nurses in stitches during her time in hospital, and even dispel the gloom I would otherwise feel at the one-to-five-year prognosis she’s recently been given.
And my wife’s incredible capacity for generous, not to say gila, good cheer and ceaseless care for others despite her killing work and study schedules help me feel far more light-hearted than I otherwise would about her forthcoming surgical ordeal.
I am more uncharacteristically light-hearted, too, about my own increasingly urgent intimations of mortality. So much so that, when a thoracic surgeon recently told me that chest scans revealed a lesion that looked alarmingly likely lung cancer, I found myself feeling not so much devastated by the news, as wryly amused.
After all, I couldn’t help thinking, after smoking cigarettes for 55 years despite knowing full well the dangers of doing so, I could hardly deny that the joke was on me.
More tests, however, showed that I was still in the clear, lung cancerwise, and thus could revert to my customary state of growing anxiety that at my age I’m certain of dying of something or other, if not cancer, and increasingly sooner rather than later....